Answering bullets with cyber attacks

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    ‘This is what happens when political appointees and not certified IT professionals are
    assigned to such highly technical and scientific positions.’

    THE enemies of the state have upped the ante when they decided to go unconventional in modern warfare: combining the standard long firearms and bullets of the guerrilla struggle with cyber attacks on government websites.

    On Wednesday, the government’s website www.gov.ph had a message that said, “Websites sometimes break. Please wait while we put it back together.” The website is maintained by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) headed by Secretary Greg Honasan, a former senator and military officer.

    Netizens and media were apprised of what happened when news organizations later received an email from a group calling itself Cyber PH Human Rights which claimed responsibility for the cyber hit on the principal government website, utilizing a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack.

    That fact that the hacking of the government website was successfully mounted is itself evidence of this group’s claim that there exists “weaknesses in the government’s IT system” which it aims to expose and take advantage of.

    The group threatened in its email that in the future, “we intend to make another round of sustained DDoS attacks on government websites which had been complicit in perpetuating barefaced lies on the killing of unarmed civilians and the worsening of the nation’s human rights situation.”

    The reference was clearly on the coordinated police raids in Calabarzon earlier this week, in which nine activists and human rights defenders were killed and several other leaders of peasants and fishermen were arrested on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

    In a giveaway statement, the cyber attackers said, “We hold President Duterte personally responsible for all these deaths, together with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., PNP chief Debold Sinas, and AFP Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr. for serving as Mr. Duterte’s ringleaders in the killing of unarmed civilians.”

    Intelligence experts Secretary Honasan and Undersecretary Cezar Mancao who serve in the DICT are indeed humbled by this cyber attack, for they were caught sleeping on the job, made objects of fun and ridicule not by computer pranksters but by enemies of the state. This is what happens when political appointees and not certified IT professionals are assigned to such highly technical and scientific positions.

    President Duterte’s oft-repeated mantra that retired military men do the job better because they are efficient in every way is proven wrong by Honasan and Mancao in this particular case. Before these two, there were former general Isidro Lapeña and former captain Nicanor Faeldon in the Bureau of Customs, where billions of pesos worth of smuggled shabu and other contraband passed unnoticed under their watch, the reason Duterte had to boot them out from Customs and promoted to other positions in TESDA and the Bureau of Corrections, respectively.

    This recent hacking serves notice to officials who are in charge of government websites to be on their toes because their being remiss and negligent will result in serious breakdown of government services.